Compaq takes a hit

Compaq may be one of the leading sellers of server hardware, but Computerworld readers ranked Compaq hardware lowest of the major vendors in key areas such as scalability, quality and overall service and support.

And though Sun's Solaris is a comparatively small player in the market for Unix-based server operating systems, users who responded to the survey said it outperforms other systems, including Microsoft's Windows NT. Out of 21 categories such as reliability and scalability, Solaris users reported they are "completely satisfied" or "very satisfied" in 13 categories. Windows NT scored lowest in five categories.

Compaq's low scores were among the most dramatic findings of Computerworld's online survey of 208 IT managers. They were asked how satisfied they are with their server hardware and operating systems.

Compaq trailed its competitors in many server categories. In scalability, 95.8 per cent of Sun users said they were "completely satisfied" or "very satisfied," compared with only 60.5 per cent of Compaq users. In quality, Sun ranked highest, with 95.8 per cent "completely satisfied" or "very satisfied"; Compaq scored lowest, with 71.1 per cent. IBM scored highest in overall service and support with 80 per cent "completely satisfied" or "mostly satisfied," compared with only 50 per cent for Compaq.

When it came to hardware prices, 70.8 per cent of users were "completely satisfied" or "very satisfied" with Dell, while IBM lagged at 40 per cent.

Users were asked to rate their satisfaction in each category by selecting "completely satisified," "very satisfied," "somewhat satisfied," "not very satisfied" or "not at all satisfied."

Operating Systems

Long-serving Unix operating systems scored well.

Users seem more satisfied overall with Unix compared with Windows NT and NetWare, though NetWare showed it still has a loyal following.

Solaris received the highest marks for satisfaction among vendors, with NetWare and IBM's AIX coming in second. Windows NT users made up the lion's share of respondents to the survey, but NT consistently placed lowest. Less than half of HP-UX users said they would buy it again, although we must point out that the number of HP-UX users in this survey was small.

Microsoft Windows NT was the lowest-rated server operating system for performance, reliability, value, vendor responsiveness and cost of ownership.

Novell NetWare users are very loyal and give the operating system high overall marks, but they have issues with the ease of upgrades, pricing, cost of in-house support and vendor credibility.

Still, Novell didn't score lowest in any categories and topped all other vendors in configuration and upgrades, vendor and channel support and cost of ownership.

Novell says it focused on configuration issues with NetWare 5. "We had to make it easy for customers to configure their networks after upgrading from NetWare 3 and 4 to 5," says Blake Stowell, a spokesman at Novell.

Violanti credits Novell's ZenWorks management software with improving upgrades and cost of ownership. "It has cut dramatically the phone calls and aggravation from end users," he says.

But Novell still has its work cut out for itself in competing against Windows NT. "They have a good product but do not know how to market and manage it," Arnett says. "We happen to like NetWare and would have stayed with Novell" but instead went with Windows NT as part of a corporate move.

Hewlett-Packard's HP-UX scored the lowest overall in the survey; however, it's important to note that HP-UX users were the lowest number of respondents in the survey. HP took hits on its pricing, compatibility, ease of configuration, scalability, service and support, price, channel support and ease of upgrade. "HP-UX doesn't have the fervor of support that NetWare and Solaris have," says Eunice. "But HP-UX is a solid commercial version of Unix and tends to have solid performance."

Sun Solaris customers were happy with the quality and performance of Solaris -- its satisfaction levels were highest in 13 of the 21 categories. Still, problems continue in vendor responsiveness and overall service and support.

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